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Das Choudhury S, Maturu S, Samal A, Stoerger V and Awada T (2020) Leveraging Image Analysis to Compute 3D Plant Phenotypes Based on Voxel-Grid Plant Reconstruction. Front. Plant Sci. 11:521431.

doi: 10.3389/fpls.2020.521431


Copyright © 2020 Das Choudhury, Maturu, Samal, Stoerger and Awada. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY).


High throughput image-based plant phenotyping facilitates the extraction of morphological and biophysical traits of a large number of plants non-invasively in a relatively short time. It facilitates the computation of advanced phenotypes by considering the plant as a single object (holistic phenotypes) or its components, i.e., leaves and the stem (component phenotypes). The architectural complexity of plants increases over time due to variations in self-occlusions and phyllotaxy, i.e., arrangements of leaves around the stem. One of the central challenges to computing phenotypes from 2-dimensional (2D) single view images of plants, especially at the advanced vegetative stage in presence of self-occluding leaves, is that the information captured in 2D images is incomplete, and hence, the computed phenotypes are inaccurate. We introduce a novel algorithm to compute 3-dimensional (3D) plant phenotypes from multiview images using voxel-grid reconstruction of the plant (3DPhenoMV). The paper also presents a novel method to reliably detect and separate the individual leaves and the stem from the 3D voxel-grid of the plant using voxel overlapping consistency check and point cloud clustering techniques. To evaluate the performance of the proposed algorithm, we introduce the University of Nebraska-Lincoln 3D Plant Phenotyping Dataset (UNL-3DPPD). A generic taxonomy of 3D image-based plant phenotypes are also presented to promote 3D plant phenotyping research. A subset of these phenotypes are computed using computer vision algorithms with discussion of their significance in the context of plant science. The central contributions of the paper are (a) an algorithm for 3D voxel-grid reconstruction of maize plants at the advanced vegetative stages using images from multiple 2D views; (b) a generic taxonomy of 3D image-based plant phenotypes and a public benchmark dataset, i.e., UNL-3DPPD, to promote the development of 3D image-based plant phenotyping research; and (c) novel voxel overlapping consistency check and point cloud clustering techniques to detect and isolate individual leaves and stem of the maize plants to compute the component phenotypes. Detailed experimental analyses demonstrate the efficacy of the proposed method, and also show the potential of 3D phenotypes to explain the morphological characteristics of plants regulated by genetic and environmental interactions.